There are 400 phone numbers for escort services in the metro Denver phone book. My guess is that there are probably 600 to 800 such phone numbers for the rest of Colorado.
One phone number was listed for Best Variety, a Broomfield escort service managed by Pasha Cowan. She testified before the grand jury investigating allegations of prostitutes being provided for potential University of Colorado football players. She stated in public documents that her organization is (or was) "an escort service for prostitution."
She also alleged providing former CU recruiting assistant Nathan Maxcey such prostitutes for such recruits. Maxcey has denied the allegation although admitting using such prostitutes for himself. The grand jury indicted Maxcey (among other charges) for soliciting prostitutes.
The prostitution law is a little weird. Using a phone to call an escort service to send over someone for sex is a Class 3 misdemeanor punished by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $750. The penalty for actually having sex with a prostitute is a Class 1 petty offense with up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
It's fairly obvious to this retired attorney that Cowan was offered immunity from prosecution, or else she has had some very bad legal advice. But her whistleblowing should not be limited to Maxcey and the allegations regarding football recruits.
Best Variety operated under Article 25.5 of Title 12 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, which law was passed in 1980 sponsored by Rep. Laura DeHerrera and Sen. Paul Sandoval. I was a co-sponsor. As a compromise, it is a state-wide licensing law administered by local government, and subject to investigation by local law enforcement.
The escort services are supposed to supply each patron with a written contract for services pointing out "that prostitution is illegal...and that both parties may be punished and no act of prostitution shall be performed in relation to the services ...contracted."
The 24-year-old law has never been subject to Sunset review to determine whether it is an occupation that needs to be licensed, nor has it been subject to a performance audit by the state auditor and it has never been substantively amended.
This law needs amending. For example, the present law doesn't bar persons with prior criminal activity from running escort services. It suggests criminal activity "may" be the basis of refusal to license, but it does not say "shall".
Escort services are required to transmit a copy of each contract entered into, to the local licensing authority 10 days after the end of each month. "The local licensing authority shall treat such contracts transmitted to them as open public records."
Apparently no newspaper or TV station has yet to review who else was "serviced" by Best Variety, even though such contracts are open public records. Since Cowan described the purpose of her escort service was prostitution there might well be others who used the "services" for an inappropriate purpose and who could be subject to prosecution.
Local law enforcement love sting operations to catch "Johns" or "Janes" soliciting prostitution on the street. But what about the hundreds of other licensed escort services? Is Best Variety the only escort service providing prostitutes? Are sting operations operating against any licensed escort services?
Violation of the escort law "contract" carries a misdemeanor criminal penalty of up to one year in the county jail and up to a $5,000 fine. That's more than the penalty for soliciting a prostitute or having sex with a prostitute.
Another part of the grand jury inquiry looked into the missing reports about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold that predated the Columbine rampage. If the legislature decides to investigate any other offenses committed by Best Variety or other escort services, will there be a lot of "missing" contracts?
(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)
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